DLA Piper hives off Ukraine business to Kinstellar as firm exits the country

Ex-Ukraine managing partner Margarita Karpenko among 38 lawyers moving to leading CEE independent firm

Kinstellar absorbs DLA Piper Ukraine in Kiev Shutterstock

Central and Eastern European firm Kinstellar has acquired DLA Piper’s office in Kiev, marking the international firm’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian market. 

The merger sees 38 lawyers join Kinstellar, bringing the firm’s headcount up to 60 lawyers, including 10 partners. 

The move adds to Kinstellar’s existing capabilities by expanding its practice coverage to include tax and intellectual property in addition to strengthening its existing practice groups, including corporate, M&A, banking and finance, employment, litigation and real estate.

The office will be led by a management committee composed of senior counsel Daniel Bilak, alongside co-managing partners Margarita Karpenko and Olena Kuchynska. Karpenko takes on the role from her position as managing partner of DLA Piper’s Ukrainian operation, while Kuchynska was the managing partner of Kinstellar’s pre-merger Kiev office. 

Bilak joined the firm last year from his position as chairman of the Ukrainian government’s investment promotion office. Before that, he spent a decade as a partner in CMS’s Kiev office advising clients in the infrastructure, agribusiness, IT and energy sectors. 

Karpenko, who has been with DLA Piper in Kiev for two decades, is an M&A and employment specialist, while Kuchnyska focuses her practice on energy law. 

Patrik Bolf, managing partner of Kinstellar, said the move enhances the firm’s scale by adding complementary practices to its existing core offerings in the region. 

He added: “This merger is a major step in our growth strategy, the core of which is attracting and retaining top talent to support our clients in meeting their commercial objectives across all of our jurisdictions.”

Jan Geert Meents, joint managing director for DLA Piper in the UK and Europe, said the firm decided to exit Ukraine following a review which concluded its presence in the country’s legal market was “no longer needed” as part of its global strategy. 

“Kinstellar is a highly regarded firm and we are confident that the Kiev team will be happy in their new home,” he said. 

Founded in 1992, Kinstellar became fully independent when it spun off from parent firm Linklaters in 2008. It currently has offices in Kazakhstan, Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Turkey, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Uzbekistan. 

In March last year, Allen & Overy (A&O) ended its longstanding alliance with its Romanian ally in a move that saw six-partner Radu Taracila Padurari Retevoescu (RTPR) relaunch as a standalone practice.

Other firms closing up European bases in recent years include DWF, which shuttered its operation in Brussels last summer as part of a major cost-cutting strategy brought on by the pandemic. 

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]